Small steps to improving end of life care

New figures show that modest progress has been made in increasing the time people in Scotland spend out of hospital in the last six months of life.  Age Scotland’s Doug Anthoney responds.

holding hands

In 2008 the Scottish Government published its Living and Dying Well plan to improve end of life care across the country.  In a new report Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland says: “The proportion of time spent at home or in a community setting towards the end of life provides a high level indication of progress in implementation of the national action plan.”  Yet the data that ISD has published reveals that, in the last five financial years, the time spent out of hospital in the last six months of life has increased by just one day on average.

We welcomed the increase, but noted that within this small overall rise there are significant local discrepancies.  In reviewing local implementation of the ‘Living and Dying Well’ plan we called on NHS Boards reporting lower percentages of home and community based palliative care to reflect on whether they are adopting the best possible practice.

Overall, palliative care is getting better.  Last September in our Mind the Gap policy review we noted improvements for example in prescriptions practice for patients approaching the end of life, but also a need for better communication between medical practitioners, patients and their families to ensure palliative care needs are fully understood and met.

Doug Anthoney is Age Scotland Communication and Campaigns Officer.  This post is part of the ‘Tomorrow’s Fish and Chip paper’ article series reporting the hot topics Age Scotland has been discussing with the media each week, and the Charity’s response.

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